PDCCC awarded $90,000 for career coach program

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FRANKLIN—The Paul D. Camp Community College career coach program recently received an upgrade.

Carletta Perry, career coach and instructor, talks with a group of former dual-enrollment students. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Carletta Perry, career coach and instructor, talks with a group of former dual-enrollment students. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation awarded the college $90,000, which the college will use over a three-year period to hire a full-time coach. Previously, all of the coaches were part-time, and it limited their effectiveness, said Candice Artis, the in-school youth program coordinator.

“Students may not be able to come by one-on-one during your hours,” Artis said. “You are also not able to become as integrated in the school and all of its events.”

All seven public high schools in area have a part-time career coach, including Franklin High School. Principal Travis Felts said Career Coach Olivia Crowley does a great job.

“She has organized career fairs, helped students with college and scholarship applications and is a liaison between Franklin High School and Paul D. Camp Community College,” Felts said. “She also speaks to senior English and government classes about career options and helps students develop a plan to meet their career goals.

“She works in collaboration with our guidance department, focusing especially on our seniors as they transition from high school to college, the military or the work force,” he continued.

Tara Atkins-Brady, vice president of academic and student development, said studies have shown that over the next decade a high number of jobs will require a post-secondary degree. Career coaches can help students on that path.

“The program provides the groundwork for a successful transition to the skilled workforce and this grant will allow us to serve the students more efficiently,” said Atkins-Brady.

Felicia Blow, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Paul D. Camp Community College Foundation, said the number one major for students coming into college is, “I don’t know.” Career coaches have access to programs that can help a student figure out what they might like to do with their lives.

There are four part-time coaches. One school, yet to be identified based on need, will get a full-time coach.

The career coaches provide students with information on not only attending Paul D. Camp Community College, but also other educational venues and options. Coaches work with dual-enrolled students as well.

Leigh Davis, Hampton Roads Community Foundation director of programs and donor services, said the foundation seeks to encourage students to receive some form of post-high school graduation education, either a degree or certificate. Research has suggested that career counselors can help. Another factor the grant is looking to do is to assist students to graduate on time, and research has shown that dual-enrollment also helps.

“I think that a high school degree is not as helpful as it used to be,” Davis said. “We want to encourage kids coming out of high school to have a plan, and part of that plan is to further their education, in a specific field, to obtain a higher wage job.”

The grant will be matched by up to $50,000 by the Virginia Community College System through the Rural Virginia Initiative.

Blow said 20.1 percent of people in the area have a bachelor’s degree or better, compared to 34.4 percent as the Virginia average. The state average for a high school degree or better is 86.6 percent, while in Franklin that is 76.8 percent.

“The initiative is focused on improving workforce skills and increasing the earning potential in these localities,” she said. “Businesses won’t come in if there isn’t a skilled workforce in place.”

The RVI has identified the expansion of the high school career coach programs as a proven solution to address these issues. The matching grant will come in June 2014.